Terii’s Cycling Babble

Such Hopes
August 9, 2014, 7:02 am
Filed under: Misc

Begun on morning of August 8

Yep, I’ve been quiet again. Just not much happening in my cycling world. River Loop and more River Loop. Can only describe the same ride so many times when nothing occurs to make one outing differ from the other.

Not that there’s been much riding. The weather had been quite uncooperative for it. With our freakishly warm winter reminiscent of most of those of my childhood spent on the Mississippi coast, concern that we’d have a broiling summer was strong in my thoughts. At first it seemed we had been blessed. June, if rather wet, was sweetly cool and refreshing.

That changed in July. Heat and humidity marched in and camped atop the country. Sweden suddenly became a country of broken records and ‘firsts’ as temps reached upper 80’s and even peaked somewhere in the 90’s a few times. Worse the nights weren’t very cool. That thrown into a country has little to no air conditioning.

I mean, we’ve had temps as warm as that before, but the nights generally dipped back into the 60’s for some relief. This time, they stayed in the high 70’s or low 80’s. In spite of the humidity, the skies remained utterly clear for most days, so the unhindered sun poured its light down like molten iron. Stepping into it felt like a blow or heavy weight on my head and shoulders. Every moment I had to go out, I skittered for the shade, any shade, and felt like each breath was short of oxygen. Reminded me of the worst summers of my childhood.

That gave Sweden one of it’s worst firsts. Heat advisories. Sweden had never had a single one since weather records began. Suddenly they were popping up all over the country. News constantly reminding to be careful of the young and old. The need to stay hydrated and tips for finding relief from the heat.

Jens and I considered heading up north for his vacation. Even if it hadn’t taken longer for his eyes to recover from laser surgery than he anticipated, we wouldn’t have gone. Freakishly, it was hotter above the polar circle, 15-20 hours north by car, than in Uppsala. Records were toppling. Or if they weren’t toppling it was things like, ‘not since 1887 has it been so warm’.

So, with that, Loke and I just languished inside as much as we could. We do have a tiny floor AC which is fairly inadequate for the task. It doesn’t help that one needs an open window for a huge, honking exhaust tube to blast out the hot air. Yes, let’s try cooling a space with hot air rushing in through the open window. Reminded me of every summer, going in or out of the house as a kid. If I took too long with the door, my mom hollering, “Hurry up with the door! We’re not trying to cool the neighborhood!’ I managed to rig a blanket over our balcony door to block most of it, but still.

Records have continued to break. Finally things changed a bit. Though still hot, we started getting storms. The sky would darken and trees get frisky while thunder growled in the distance. One such storm had enough lightning it nearly matched some of the lesser rain squalls in Mississippi. Sadly where we were, just a few patters of rain, a hint of cooler air and nothing more of it. About 20 minutes later, the news reported streets closed in downtown Uppsala, less than 2 miles away, due to flash floods from the torrent of rain. An apartment building not far from my dentist caught fire from lightning strikes.

I can’t remember if it was that day or another, but Jens found mention that Sweden had set a new record for number of lightning strikes in the country for a day. Something like 47,400. The previous record had been in the 45,000 range so not a huge difference, but still.

Just a bit west of Sala, a forest fire broke out and a new record was set for Sweden. Its largest and most enduring blaze. I asked Jens if it had been human carelessness/malice or lightning that caused it. He said he hadn’t heard, but if he had to guess it would be a train. Apparently, the sparks from the electric trains are the most common cause of forest fires in the country. One man has died, apparently because he didn’t heed the warnings and went for a walk in the woods in the area. Quite a few evacuations.

Swedish firefighters have been completely overwhelmed by the biggest and most enduring fire in the country’s history. Water-bombing planes came over from Italy came to help though they ended up grounded when they first arrived. They landed at the wrong airport and couldn’t take off again because of visibility issues.

Still, on the 6th, we had something of a break in the weather. I had no clue at first, but was feeling restless at living like a shut-in because going out seemed to trigger heat exhaustion symptoms in minutes.

At the start of his vacation, Jens had offered to drive me a fair distance if there was anywhere I wanted to try a tour once his eyes healed enough to allow it. That’s been strong in my thoughts. I paced around the apartment at 5 am like a caged animal. For some reason, I picked up my iPhone and scanned the weather in the Borås area where the beauty of the landscape and the delightfully extensive rail-trail cycle path called.

I stared in disbelief and then squealed (under my breath so as not to wake the hubby) in joy. The area of Borås and Ulricehamn was forecasted for temps below 70 F! The problem was, Jens’ vacation time was running short so I’d have to get my rump in gear if I wanted to tour since I’m not confident in Loke’s ability to do 25+ miles for multiple days in a row.

Getting ready was a combination of productive frenzy and unproductive frustration. I was having serious issues with MapMyRide which made it impossible to plot. Jens found a work around thankfully when he got up a few hours later. After that, I struggled with a middle ground of getting things done and not straining my back or knees too badly to be able to make camp.

By that evening, I hadn’t finished things enough for a 5 am leave taking as I’d hoped. I staggered to bed around 11:30 am with the alarm set for 3:30 am. When it went off, I knew I wasn’t clear headed enough with a measly 4 hours of sleep to work on the maps some more and do a long drive to reach the destination. I slapped it off for another hour.

Getting up at 4:30, I discovered that all my work on the maps was a mess. I’d been too rushed and, by 10 pm too groggy, to be effective. I ended up redoing most of them which set things back even more. Jens woke around 6 am and saw me flying about, about to burst apart from panic at the time I was losing. He did something sensible. He asked if it would help that we relaxed the morning and leave in the afternoon to overnight in Borås at a hotel. I flung myself at him and kissed repeatedly.

Things did go quite a bit more smoothly after that. I didn’t feel this huge pressure to get out the door as early as possible to get to the area I wanted to cycle before with as much time as possible. Arriving with just 3 hours to pedal before having to search for a camp area would have made me crazy. This way, I could get an earlier start.

While I finished the maps, the irony of my route planning wasn’t lost on me. Though obsessed with the rail-trails, much of my riding for the first 80 miles or so will be on very little of it as I hare off across the countryside to chase down this church, that runestone, or whatever burial ground,ruin…etc. Admittedly, if I decide the hills are just too much for my knees right now, I may jump back on the trail and stay there except when ‘x’ POI is less than a mile from the trail.

As we started out, I managed to avert disaster before we were more than 15 minutes from home. I was staring blankly at familiar scenery as we rolled along on the E4 south when I suddenly clapped a hand over my mouth in dismay. Jens gave me a puzzled glance, “What? You forget something?”

I nodded, “The trailer hitch for the trike’s back wheel.”

Jens sighed and we turned back at the next exit. We lost about 45 minutes, but better that than having gone the entire way there only to discover it missing then. No way to pull my camping gear without that little chunk of machined metal threaded onto the end of the rear axle!

Lovely Old Building in Borås

Lovely Old Building in Borås

So, a bit later than planned, we arrived in Borås to find our luck with towns and travel is still annoying. Went to the island of Møn to have many streets of its main town closed for a day for a street carnival. Bruges, both on our way there and in the town itself, streets of some small village outside it with a street fair. Streets of old Bruges packed with pedestrians and street vendors when we first arrived.

Borås had some big concert in its square the night we arrived. People packed every available outdoor eating space we might have been able to sit with Loke other wise. Then to top it off, fireworks at midnight completely freaked the puppy out. We couldn’t see them, but they still shed enough light to illuminate the courtyard view from our room and the cannon like bangs really worried Loke. Fortunately such displays are generally brief.

Last night wasn’t terribly comfortable. Warm in our room. The only cover was a down duvet. The bed so narrow Jens and I actually had battles in and out of sleep for space. Took me forever to get to sleep.

It’s been raining this morning, but the air is lovely out right now. A glorious hint of cool. The forecast has warmed a tiny bit and a moderate chance of rain but still nice temps forecasted. Cooler than in Uppsala though we’re further south.

I’m looking forward to the day and the first few miles will actually be with Loke. Jens has decided to linger for a few hours and poke around Borås while Loke gets a bit of a run. I’ll even wait to load up and hitch the trailer to the trike until Jens comes to get the furball. That will spare my knees a bit as the first 25 miles or so are on hilly roads rather than flat trail.

Now, It’s down to breakfast and get this day rolling!


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